With the COVID-19 pandemic still running rampant in this country, local merchants have had to change the way they conduct business, and in some cases, have had to close altogether. All non-essential businesses were ordered to shutter their doors, per an order by Governor Mike Parson, at least through May 3. The order may be extended longer, depending on the status of the coronavirus and the number of confirmed cases in Missouri. The Image caught up with some area business owners and asked about the impact the coronavirus was having on their livelihoods. Living and trying to make a living in the midst of the deadliest pandemic in modern history has proven to be very difficult for most businesses. The HOPE Coalition’s Thrift Center has been closed since March 30. According to HOPE Executive Director Lois Cheatham, the center will wait for word from Johnson County Community Health Services (JCCHS) and Governor Parson as to when they can re-open. The closures have also affected all HOPE activities and sporting events at the Community Activity Center (CAC), because the events would draw crowds of more than 10 people, which is now prohibited in Missouri. Aside from the people the Thrift Center serves and the youth impacted by the CAC closure, Cheatham is worried about HOPE’s employees. “We are blessed with four exceptional employees who work for HOPE,” she said. “My greatest concern now is for them and their families and how an extended shutdown could affect their livelihood.” All CAC activities have been cancelled since March 22, even the private rental events, at least until May 3. Cancellations include the Holden WIC satellite program that is held at the CAC, but WIC is still available and taking new applicants through JCCHS, at its Warrensburg location. In speaking about the sports activities at the CAC, Cheatham added, “We are really missing the kids who frequent the CAC gym. They bring life and joy to our mission.” Per the Governor’s order, barber shops and beauty shops are considered non-essential, and thus area shops and salons have had to close their doors. Shawn Midkiff of Shawn’s Barber Shop shares that his business had always been a walk-in operation. However, that procedure was altered when serious concerns were raised about the infectious coronavirus. “For the protection and safety of myself and that of the public, I went strictly to appointment-only,” explained Midkiff. “This would drastically limit the amount of people who would be in the shop at one time, make people feel safe, and actually be within the recommended guidelines for social distancing.” However, that all changed for Shawn’s Barber Shop when the mandate came from the Governor, ordering all shops like his to close. “It’s absolutely scary,” said Midkiff, “but in a situation like this – it isn’t about you anymore, it’s about taking care of each other, making sure that everyone stays safe. “I felt like I knew this was coming, but I candidly have to say that I think I was in denial a bit. “I think I felt like there was a chance that somehow we wouldn’t see the order to close. But then it came, and so here we are. “I just have to say that the people of Holden have been very good to my wife and I, and we will be fine. Shawn’s Barber Shop isn’t going anywhere. “We have looked into some options through the Small Business Administration to help in a crisis like this, and are exploring other avenues to weather this storm. “I’m pretty confident that we will be ok, but for others? I hope they can hang on. We have a strong community here that really comes together in a time of need, and honestly I wouldn’t expect us to let each other down now.” So, although our beloved hometown is going through a tough time right now, just like the rest of the country, your local businesses are trying to hang on until the deadly pandemic storm is over. They all look forward to the time when they can re-open and get back to the business of serving the community they love. Editor’s Note: See next week’s Image for more stories on local businesses and how they are dealing with the coronavirus.